Traveling with infants is never easy.
It’s not always fun being on a
plane with them and it’s far harder being a parent of an infant on a plane. It’s
even harder when you’re flying more than 30 hours. And the worse feeling of all
is when you’re being denied permission to fly solely because of your
Welcome to the nightmare that Esti and Yitz recently endured. The
two have worked very hard, like so many young people here. Their first 10 years
post army were a combination of “work hard and travel harder.”
fell in love, got married and started a family. Bar came first, followed 18
months later by Tal.
While raising two small children, they both had to
work to meet their basic needs and both longed to take a break.
the siren call to travel couldn’t be silenced, they scrounged together enough
money to traipse around Australia and New Zealand for three months.
had heard from family and friends that infants younger than two, while not
getting a seat, only pay 10 percent of an adult fare.
presume they didn’t know the value of money. Quite the contrary. They elected to
fly to New Zealand on a Royal Jordanian ticket from Tel Aviv to Amman to Hong
Kong and then using Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to Auckland.
this combination of airlines both for the ease of flights and, more importantly,
for the price. Royal Jordanian was emphatic that infants younger than two need
only pay 10% of an adult fare.
Two adults, two infants equaled major
savings. So what if they had to hold the babies for over 30 hours; the saving
was worth it.
They were cognizant of the need for visas; they made sure
the babies had their latest vaccinations. They even asked what happens when
their oldest baby turns two during their trip and were reassured that if he left
as an infant he would return as an infant too.
So off they went, down
under and beyond, twittering to all their family and friends and uploading
photos on Facebook.
Almost three months to the day, the real world
intervened. Arriving at Melbourne airport to commence their return journey, they
were stunned with the simple, almost incomprehensible statement from the Cathay
Pacific representative. “Sorry, we are unable to accept your ticket as your
eldest infant is over two years old.”
Esti pointed out that Royal
Jordanian had confirmed that it was the age of the infant when they departed
that counted; the Cathay Pacific representative was not swayed.
phone calls to Royal Jordanian went unanswered; calling their Israeli travel
consultant didn’t help either. Pleading with airport personnel is never easy and
rarely successful, and their supplications fell on deaf ears. Refusing to pay
the astronomical amount that was being demanded for a child’s ticket, they
decided to take an airport hotel and try to sort it out the next day. This would
only inflame matters.
Calling Israel the next morning, the Royal
Jordanian representative they contacted reiterated that no additional ticket was
needed for the eldest infant, now two years and two weeks old. Cathay Pacific’s
Israeli representative was more sanguine.
Blithely commenting that it was
a Royal Jordanian ticket, he was happy to send an e-mail to Cathay Pacific’s
office in Melbourne, asking it to permit the family to fly as reserved. Both
Royal Jordanian and Cathay Pacific are in the same building in Tel Aviv, yet
communication between the two was strained. Finally near the close of the
business day in Tel Aviv, new flights were reserved, meals requested and a
volley of new e-tickets sent out. All’s well that ends well, was the overall
Mollified that other than a 24 hour delay all would work as
originally planned, the intrepid foursome returned to the
Unfortunately, nobody at Cathay Pacific at the Melbourne airport
was moved. In fact, the representative contacted the Royal Jordanian office in
the US which confirmed that his colleague in Tel Aviv was 100% wrong. The
passengers were forced to spend thousands of dollars and purchase a child’s
ticket back to Israel.
SO LET’S review: Royal Jordanian personnel in Tel
Aviv were adamant they were correct; in fact, they became quite aggressive
informing the passengers and their travel consultant that Cathay Pacific was at
fault. Moreover, they refused to provide a new child’s ticket (because they
claimed it was unnecessary) and did not want to engage Cathay Pacific’s
representative in Tel Aviv. The passengers were left helpless.
between two airlines, each blaming the other, they suffered both financially and
I can predict one thing: Royal Jordanian will reimburse them
Its attitude, so all knowing, will come back to haunt it. Too
many of us play the blame game, trying to shift responsibility to someone else.
In this case, there is nobody else.
It was a Royal Jordanian ticket, with
Royal Jordanian rules using a partner of Royal Jordanian. And this type of
“royal” treatment cannot be excused.The writer is CEO of Ziontours,
For questions and comments, e-mail him at